While cleaning my basement I found a brown envelope containing eight issues of “ԱՐԾԱԳԱՆԳ. Հայ Կեդրոնի Լրատու Թորոնթո” “ECHO. Armenian Newsletter Toronto”. The first issue is dated March 1968 and is followed by seven consecutive issues. The address on it is 18 Dupont St. Toronto 5, Ontario. There were many more issues published and I am hoping to find more when I get time to further clean up the big “mess” in the basement.
I recall the cover was designed and printed by Vazken Terzian. It is a folder 8.5 x 11 size, dark blue, with white semi-circular lines. ԱՐԾԱԳԱՆԳ and ECHO in orange letters. At the time Vazken was living and working in Saint Catherine Ontario, and was in the printing business. Often we use to take advantage of Vazken’s generosity to get free printings and this time he printed a very large quantity to last for a long time.
The executive of the ACC “Gomidai” decided to publish the News Letter not as a newspaper or magazine, but rather just as a promotional platform for the activities of the Armenian organizations operating within ACC. At the time with one old typewriter, and with hardly any Armenian typist, and limited financial resources, it was a challenging task.
Soon we started to receive articles, poems, stories, etc. that were more than we could afford to type and print. We were criticized by many for not printing some of their writings. The biggest and loudest “collective” complaint, a “revolt”, came from the volunteer actors of an Armenian play when a review/polemic was printed and it is in the issue No 7 on page 8 signed by a “Թատերասեր”.
We also start receiving lengthy articles of dogmatic and ideological content from “Mamlo Tivan” of Beirut Lebanon that was hardly appropriate for a newsletter format with limited space. Despite our request to stop sending them they kept coming. Needless to say, none of them got published. (At the time “Mamlo Tivan” was established by ARF Buro to train some of the bright graduate students from Armenian educational centers in Beirut Lebanon as possible future editors and opinion writers for ARF newspapers).
There was one poem sent from Hamilton signed MENSHA Մենշա that turned out to be Markar Sharapkhanian. (The poem does not seem to have been published, unless, it got published in a later issue). Later on, Markar moved from Hamilton to Toronto and was given the responsibility to publish the ԱՐԾԱԳԱՆԳ. He soon enlarged it and turned it more into a literary publication with the assistance of the members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF).
At the time the young AYF members had worked hard, very hard, and with their amateur skills, renovated the basement of the ACC and turned it into the hub of their activities. Markar became like the literary counselor/guide for the young AYF members. Years later Markar became also the first and the longest-serving Principal of the ARS Day School at 45 Hall Crown Place.
(Later on, another newsletter was published by ACC that became a very effective promotional platform and a “tool” to raise funds. It was published more frequently during the construction of the new ACC at 45 Hall Crown Place. It was simply titled ” Հայ Կեդրոնի Լրատու” “Armenian Newsletter Toronto)”.
The first page of the first issue of the “ԱՐԾԱԳԱՆԳ” has a quote from Krisdapor Mikaelian, one of the founders of the ARF organization, and it portrays the mood and the orientation of the young generation of ARF members who came to Toronto from the Middle East and worked hard to help keep the Armenian identity. It reads.
“ՄԵԶ ՎԱՐԱՆՈՒՄՆԵՐ ՉԵՆ ՀԱՐԿԱՒՈՐ, ԱՅԼ ՀԱՒԱՏ, ՄԵԶ ԽՕՍՔԵՐ ՉԵՆ ՀԱՐԿԱՒՈՐ, ԱՅԼ ԳՈՐԾԵՐ, ՄԵԶ ԹԵՐԱՀԱՒԱՏՈՒԹԻՒՆ ՉԷ ՀԱՐԿԱՒՈՐ, ԱՅԼ ԵՌԱՆԴ, ՄԵԶ ՏԱՏԱՆՈՒՄՆԵՐ ՉԵՆ ՀԱՐԿԱՒՈՐ, ԱՅԼ ՎՃՌԱԿԱՄՈՒԹԻՒՆ եւ ՅԱՆԴԳՆՈՒԹԻՒՆ“
There are many nostalgic memories associated with this publication. I will quote only from the first issue in memory of Kourken Magarian and Arthur Giragossian, two Armenian orphans who not only survived as Armenians in the “melting pot” of Canada and the United State but also became very instrumental in the purchase and the renovation of the first Armenian Community Center on 18 Dupont St. (I wrote more about this two worthy leaders in my previous blogs dated Feb 17 and March 23, 2016). Here is the quote.
“Հայ Կեդրոնի Բացումը”.
“Ընկ Ա. Կիրակոսեանի խանդավառ եւ շինիչ ճառէն ետք, Ատենապետը հրաւիրեց ընկ Գ. Մակարեանը պաշտօնապէս կտրելու բացման ժապաւէնը. Ընկ Գուրգէն ըսաւ – “Իմ երազս եղած է Թորոնթոյի մէջ տեսնել Դաշնակցական ակումբի մը շինութիւնը եւ այսօր, ես իմ երազի իրականացումն է որ կը տեսնեմ”. This was not a cliche, it was genuine feeling in every sense of the words.
From the same first issue, I copy only the headings of the printed articles just to give an idea about its content.
ԽՈՐՀՐԴԱԾՈՒԹԻՒՆՆԵՐ. – ՀԱՅ ԴԱՏ. – ԹՈՒՐՔԸ ԹՈՒՐՔԸ ԿԸ ԾԵԾԷ. – Հ .Ե. ԴԱՇՆԱԿՑՈՒԹԵԱՆ ՔԱՆԱՏԱՅԻ ԽՈՐՀՐԴԱԺՈՂՈՎԸ. – ԿԱՐՄԻՐ ԵՐԳԻԾԱՆՔ. – ԾԻԾԱՂ. – ԱԵՑԵԼՈՒԹԻՒՆՆԵՐ. – ՎԻՃԱԲԱՆԱԿԱՆ ԱՍՈՒԼԻՍ. – ՓԵՏՐՈՒԱՐԵԱՆ ԱՊՍՏԱՄԲՈՒԹԵԱՆ ՏՈՆԱԿԱՏԱՐՈՒԹԻՒՆ. – Հ.Օ. Մ.ի ՕՐՈՒԱՅ ՏՕՆԱԿԱՏԱՐՈՒԹԻՒՆ. – ԴԱՍԱԽՕՍԱԿԱՆ ԵՐԿՈՅԹ. – ԱՆԴԱՄԱԿՑՈՒԹԻՒ Ն ՀԱՅ ԿԵԴՐՈՆԻ. – ՆՈՒԻՐԱՏՈՒԹԻՒՆՆԵՐ.
Today 48 years later, reading these headings I have the feeling that not much has been changed. With today’s technologies, similar Armenian News Letters are bigger, more colorful, and more professionally done than then, but the content seems to be of the same nature.
Maybe here it will be appropriate to quote from one of the diaspora’s best poet and intellectual Antranig Dzarougian the following that is also the title of one of his many books. Հին Երազներ Նոր Ճամբաներ, loosely translated, “Old dreams new means”.
Now that I have copied these Armenian quotes and the headings at the speed of a one-legged turtle! I appreciate more the efforts and the dedication of many of those who typed and helped publish the ԱՐԾԱԳԱՆԳ with limited means at their disposal. Վարձքը կատար բոլորին եւ Աստուած հոգին լուսւորէ բոլոր անոնց որոնք մեզ հետ չեն.
Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian